I’ve been taking a break from writing novels for a bit. My wrist had been bothering me a lot because of typing every day for over two and a half years. During that time I’ve produced a lot of different books and short stories. Some of them you might have even read. The present project that I’m working on is Inquiso and in the story the main character lives for at least part of the story line in a house with solar and wind power. One question has led to another and I’ve begun to research renewable energy as a result. Right now I’m also working on the energy efficiency of my house. This post is the result of some of the research I’ve been doing and will be doing.
Maybe this last winter your utility bills scared you just like they did me. Propane can be really expensive to cook and heat your house. There are some things you can do about it. So far I can definitely recommend LED light bulbs and additional insulation is also a good thing along with water heater wraps. None of them are really all that expensive to accomplish either.
Now let’s just say you’ve decided you would like to get at least part of your power from the sun. Even if you're going to be connected to the grid you can be assured electric won't cost less in the future in most places. That's just one good reason. Of course it’s beneficial to know you’ll be making the environment cleaner. The cleaner environment doesn’t necessary directly affect your wallet though which is what most people are interested in.
In my research a 270 watt solar panel will pay for itself in about one year and that's without rebates or subsidies. They cost about $280 each and each should last for about 25-30 years.
It took me a bit but I finally found the formula you need to figure out what size system is necessary.
Array size=annual kWh usage÷days per year÷solar hours÷day .75 derate
The derate amount figures in for the loss when putting your current through an inverter which takes the DC and turns it into AC. In our case I've already figured out the daily average so here is the formula with numbers.
10.5 kWh ÷ 5.5 ÷ .75 = 2.55 kW
I'll probably go for 50-75% of our total usage next year. I think that's what I'll be able to afford. Getting the individual components is cheaper than buying a whole package I’ll note. When I took twenty of the years into consideration each 270 watt panel produces power at about 3.5 cents per kilowatt over the life of the panel. That's a wow!
There are a few things you need to make note of. Some utilities are not a fan of paying their customers for the power being generated. They will fight you on it. Others require you to get a special permit.
I've also read articles more recently where the utilities were pushing a tax to be placed on renewable energy sources. That’s kind of understandable as they are trying to protect their own interests. Just a word of warning but before you cover you entire roof with solar panels dreaming of the money you'll make you need to check. However it shouldn't be too much of an issue if it's only part of your power. Of course your other option would be to completely disconnect from the grid. I’ll warn you that can be expensive though with all of the batteries, etc.
One thing that found quite interesting recently. I guess all new buildings in China have solar water heaters. The heater is a large black box with tubes in it that water flows through and heats up. It gets collected in some kind of tank for the use of those living in the building. I know part of it is to save money. Just to heat water for showers it can be a quarter of your energy costs easily.
Those solar water heater systems in China I'm going to research a bit more. They do interest me. Many years ago when I lived in Las Vegas, Nevada I used a solar water system I built. It was pretty simple. I made a black box that I would fill up in the morning and I think it held about fifteen gallons. During the day the water would heat up naturally on the top of the home built camper I was living in. That night I would take a nice hot shower. I don't know how well it would work where I am now though it would probably work well during the summer.